The Rise of the Malawian Girl - Ukani Malawi
The Rise of the Malawian Girl - Ukani Malawi
This feature highlights how the partnership of Ukani Malawi and the Queen’s Commonwealth Trust (QCT) is leading the fight for gender equality and women empowerment in Malawi, Africa.
That’s the recommendation Temwa Chirembo, Co-founder of Ukani Malawi gives to young leaders who are interested in starting businesses and programs to build their communities. It’s the advice she also followed in 2016, when she started Ukani Malawi with her friend, Modester Mangilani, to champion girl empowerment and gender equality in Malawi, Africa.
Ukani Malawi is a youth-led non-government organization that runs holistic programs to transform the lives of young girls in Blantyre, Zomba, Lilongwe and Mzimba Malawi. Though mentorship, menstrual health hygiene management programs, sexual reproductive health rights education, vocational skills, and entrepreneurship training over 400 girls have been impacted by their work.
Temwa and Modester do not lead this work alone. They are supported by 150 volunteers who give of their time and expertise to bridge the gap between males and females in positions of power, leadership, and entrepreneurship in Malawi through Ukani Malawi’s programs.
“Our vision is to groom young female leaders and entrepreneurs to actively contribute to the development of Malawi. We are focused on removing barriers in health, education, sanitation, and enterprise through holistic solutions. To further address gender disparities, our programs are focused on the overall development of the girl child to ensure that she is educated, healthy and safe and directed towards achieving her dreams and bringing positive change to her Malawi”, Temwa Chirembo.
One of the organization’s flagship program is the Young Mothers Project that was launched in 2018. This center provides young mothers aged 18-22 with vocational skills training in tailoring, design, entrepreneurship classes and access to capital. To date 200 young mothers have been reached.
The Breaking Red Project is another program where Temwa and team train girls in menstrual health hygiene management, distributes reusable pads and provides them with skills on how to make them. The project’s goal is to ensure that girls have the necessary supplies during their menstruation, so that they don’t miss school or dropout entirely . Ukani Malawi has reached 1000 girls through this program.
Additionally, the organization provides mentorship, leadership, entrepreneurship training and Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) training to adolescent girls to develop their skills as they venture into innovative businesses. Ukani Malawi has managed to reach 1200 girls through these nurturing trainings.
Ukani Malawi also leads a cervical cancer prevention program that provides information on cervical cancer prevention methods. Even after reaching 200 women, the organization is still seeking to increase access to cervical cancer screening services in health centers across Malawi.
Inspired by this vision, the Queen’s Commonwealth Trust (QCT) partnered with Ukani Malawi to expand its reach and impact and develop the capacity of its leaders. Through QCT’s support, 100 young mothers have received training, 400 girls have of trained on menstrual health hygiene management and 2000 reusable pads have been produced.
“Working with QCT is important to us because it is tailormade for young leaders. It has been a life changing experience for us at Ukani, as we have been surrounded by a team of experts who believe in us and want to support the change we are trying to bring to the communities we work with. Not only did QCT support Ukani financially but they also helped us develop our systems and policies which will help our future sustainability.”
Sustainability. That’s important to Temwa and Modester as they are committed to leading Ukani Malawi for several more years and expanding its programs throughout other communities in Africa.
When Temwa considers her four year experience of operating Ukani Malwai’s, she is proud of its growth and of the partnerships that have allowed the organization to continue providing girls with brighter futures.
“Malawi happens to be one of the poorest countries in the world and in such settings women and girls are usually the ones most affected. I’m proud that our programs allow women to gain skills and access capital that can help them be financial independent. I am also proud that we continue to encourage girls to stay in school and take on leadership roles as well as live healthier lives.”
“We want to continue to reach more girls and young women, and our goal is to expand to two more districts in Malawi, namely Balaka and Mangochi, in the coming months. We believe that through this expansion girls who are adversely affected by poverty and harmful cultural practices will be helped and ultimately rise.”
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